Grafton Anglican Diocese wants to sell off Byabarra church

FUTURE IN DOUBT: The Anglican Church of St James' in Byabarra.
FUTURE IN DOUBT: The Anglican Church of St James' in Byabarra.

The Grafton Anglican Diocese has asked the main parishes in the diocese to sell off little country churches including St James' Church at Byabarra.

The community west of Wauchope are concerned about what will happen and have been meeting to try to save it.

Gordon Burch is a parishioner at Byabarra who is also a lay reader at Wauchope Anglican Church. He said 16 members of the small local community attended a meeting last month to talk about the building's future.

"We are doing our best to see if we can have some sort of a saving option for our church. It's really sad that our heritage in the shape of these little churches like Byabarra, Pappinbarra and Ellenborough which have been the mainstay of our community here are being lost," he said.

"The church is a haven for people. It's a very abrupt approach from the diocese. We are asking for a two-year period to see what the options are to save the little church, or it could become a community church.

"We have written to the diocese and have made submissions to them, asking them for patience for these small communities. We need to explore other means of supporting the church if the Anglican Church won't support it," he added.

Next month, there will be a diocesan restructure of all the parishes. Mr Burch said he hoped some will work together in a good initiative with more teamwork and co-operation.

"However, there are many little churches like the one in Byabarra which will be deconsecrated and sold," he warned.

"We hold a service there once a month for the local people. The rector from Wauchope and I do those services. We usually get around 10 or 12 people attending. It's a small community, and the land was donated years ago and the church was build with contributions from the local people, so it's very much a community asset."

The Wauchope Gazette contacted the Diocese of Grafton for comment but so far, they haven't replied.